You’ve done it! You started your business in order to live your passion, make money doing what you love, and make a real impact on the world—and the success you’ve achieved is a testament to your hard work and admirable abilities. Your business is thriving, customers are lining up, and the money is flowing in. The financial and emotional results you’ve attained allow you to live comfortably and with well-deserved personal satisfaction. As you’re well aware, building a successful business isn’t easy; you’re among an elite few. You’ve sailed the rocky seas of entrepreneurship and have returned with the riches and excitement you set out to find.
You could remain exactly where you are with your business right now, and continue to live well and enjoy your work. But Explorers are not typically content to stay put and maintain the status quo. Everyone around you sees you as a true success, but you know you’re just getting started. After all, your relentless drive and determined spirit are what got you where you are in the first place, and you’re not about to rest on your laurels.
You’re excited to see how you can further grow and develop your business, what additional dimensions it could take on, what paths it could lead you down, and what you may find at the end of the road. There are always new lands to discover, and you can’t wait to see what you accomplish next. It’s not necessarily about money—you’re earning plenty of that now. It’s about impact, about making that quantum leap forward. It’s about deciding where to go next and how to get there.
But you face a unique problem: You have so many ideas and opportunities to pursue, you don’t know which to choose. When you first went into business, you may have been on a solo expedition; perhaps there was no one to back you, and no one signing up to come along. Or maybe you had a benefactor, or a Lewis to your Clark. Either way, you knew the land you were exploring was one that required tireless effort and focus, and that you had to put one foot in front of the other down the untrodden path. It was hard work, but it wasn’t anything you didn’t expect, and you were prepared for it; it was essentially your map.
Now that you’ve returned from this journey with all the success, money, and knowledge you’ve earned along the way, suddenly everyone wants to board your ship. Backers with amazing new territories to map are clamoring for you to lead their expeditions. You’ve got offers coming in from every direction, suggestions for partnerships, products, media, new ventures, you name it—and many sound interesting, are complementary to what you’re already providing, or offer the opportunity to leverage yourself to help even more of your target audience.
On top of that, you’ve got several of your own exciting ideas about the next expedition, the next new land to discover. An entire world has opened up to you, and you just don’t know where to go next. What would best allow you to leave your mark? Which would you enjoy most? Which would provide the biggest personal and professional impact?
While this is an enviable problem to have, it can also be a bit jarring. It’s an unfamiliar world, one you’re not sure how to navigate. The wealth of options, which you could only have dreamed about when you first started your business, can end up being somewhat overwhelming, leaving you unsure of where to place your focus. For the first time in your business, you don’t know the obvious way forward. Each time you think you’re close to deciding on your next move, you can’t bring yourself to actually launch the ship, worried that it’s not the right choice after all, or that you’re leaving money on the table by forgoing the other options.
Some Explorers try to solve this issue of indecision by jumping into multiple opportunities at once, launching a new product here, a joint venture there, and a new media opportunity all at the same time. The impulse is understandable; each opportunity seems like a viable way to help more people, exponentially grow your income, and (the big one) earn money while you sleep. You may even think to yourself, “If just one of these ideas works out, then I could literally double my income and triple the number of people I’m helping.”
But now you realize that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You might be feeling like a slave to your own ambitions, and your work/life balance has gone out the window—there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and you feel unfocused and stressed. You may even find that this scattergun approach is taking away from the business that until now, you were absolutely rocking.
Just like your first expedition, you need to pick just one idea and focus on that. Otherwise, you’re spreading yourself too thin, even if all projects are aligned, and you risk them failing or at least not growing to their full potential. You were successful in the past because you had one focus, and you need to do that again. Tackle one idea at a time, make it a success, and then move to the next. It may feel like you’re leaving money on the table and losing out on opportunities, but have faith. There are always more around the corner, and if your backers really want you, they will wait.
Whether you’re paralyzed with indecision or overwhelmed by scattered focus, the solution to having it all is to learn how to leverage yourself. What you know for sure is that you want to be more impactful, reach more people, and expand your business. So how do you do that?
Start by tapping into the passion that brought you success in the first place. Of the opportunities you’ve envisioned and been presented with, carefully consider which of them most clearly lines up with that passion. Which market do you most enjoy working with? What are you most excited to learn? Which customers pay you the most money? What do you derive the greatest satisfaction from?
Next, consider your target market. If you’re currently serving a fairly broad demographic, it’s time to go deeper, further narrowing down. It might sound like a contradiction, but to grow more, you need to serve fewer types of people.
With a broad demographic, there are just too many variables and too many differing customer needs and desired outcomes. Trying to meet them all is impossible; your offering will be too general. You’ll have to provide far too much personal attention to customers with specific questions that relate to many small subsets of the larger group.
Re-evaluate your opportunities, knowing that the one you choose must fall within these guidelines:
- It must be aligned with your passion, gifts, and talents.
- It must be aligned with serving the group of people you get the best results for and make the most money from—the smaller subset of your current niche.
- Once complete and launched, it must require very little ongoing work from you while still effectively serving customers. Again, you need to choose markets small enough that the client needs and outcome requirements are specific enough to be almost fully addressed within the scope of the product. Examples include a subscription membership site for women CEOs of mid-sized B2B companies, or a six-week Master Class for life coaches working with an older population, or an iPhone app that helps first-time entrepreneurs achieve their business and personal goals.
- It must be manageable within the time you have available. You’re already running a successful business that demands the majority of your working hours, so you need to utilize the power of time blocking.
How much time is required for development? Decide how many hours per week you can commit to, and for how long. Put these hours in your schedule and stick to them. You’ll have to push back clients to later dates and even risk losing their business. But look at the trade-off as an investment in the next stage of growth and as a way to leverage yourself.
Careful consideration of the above should leave you with a much shorter list of viable options. It may be tough to choose just one direction from the several available to you, but it’s necessary. When you’re scattered among multiple plans, you’re unable to direct the energy and focus required to build successfully. You can turn to the next new idea, and the next niche, when the first plan is going like gangbusters.
The success you’ve achieved with your business provides you with the financial and emotional satisfaction you set out to find when you decided to explore entrepreneurship. The challenge you face is one that other business owners would envy—which exciting idea do you choose in order to attain the next stage of growth? By following your passion, identifying the ideal niche you can best serve, selecting a self-sustaining product, and committing to specific time blocks, you can grab your compass and sail into this new land with confidence, focus, and a sense of adventure.